What Are the Most In-Demand Jobs in Public Health?
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The COVID-19 pandemic was the largest health crisis to impact the global community in decades. As the pandemic strained the U.S. healthcare system, facilities and organizations sought skilled workers to fill important public health roles.
Many public health occupations are projected to experience continued growth from 2021-2031, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Learn about the most in-demand public health careers, including typical duties, average pay, and projected growth.
The Influence of COVID-19 on Public Health Careers
During the pandemic, many industries relied on public health officials to keep workers and customers safe. Local municipalities also realized they needed public health workers on staff to monitor and respond to new developments.
Though the U.S. plans to end official COVID-19 disaster declarations in May 2023, many companies and healthcare facilities will continue to seek workers who can develop and modify safety protocols, minimize the impact of diseases within communities, and update corporate policies and procedures.
Public health professionals can help businesses, communities, and the government adapt to a post-pandemic world.
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The Most In-Demand Public Health Jobs
Our list of the most in-demand public health jobs was developed using projected job growth data from the BLS for 2021-31.
Biostatisticians design biological and public health experiments, gather and analyze data, and interpret the results. They are also responsible for monitoring research studies to ensure accuracy, writing reports on collected data, and presenting their findings to the public health and healthcare community.
Biostatisticians also design clinical trials, assess population genetics, perform ecological forecasting, and complete biological sequence analysis. They typically work for research foundations, educational institutions, and government agencies.
Biostatisticians are in high demand because of the increasing need for statistical analysis. Due to the country's aging population and COVID-19's continued presence, the healthcare industry and consulting research firms need biostatisticians to research the effectiveness of new drugs and complete clinical trials.
2. Medical and Health Services Manager
Medical and health services managers develop, direct, and execute services for entire facilities, specific departments, or medical practices. They work behind the scenes to ensure that operations run smoothly.
The position is ideal for individuals who are detail oriented, organized, and have a variety of strong technical skills.
A recent increase in group practices has led to an increased need for medical and health services to manage these locations. Overall, the demand for medical and health services managers mirrors that for medical professionals overall.
Epidemiologists are medical investigators who study how diseases spread, identify at-risk communities, and determine how to stop and prevent epidemics. Their main role is to protect the public by reducing disease risk and occurrence.
Typically, epidemiologists focus on applied public health and work for state and local governments. They may also complete research and find jobs within universities, consulting companies, or government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The pandemic has increased the demand for epidemiologists. COVID-19 has also renewed interest in studying and preventing new and developing diseases.
- Median Annual Salary: $78,830
- Projected Employment Growth (2021-2031): 26%
4. Social and Community Service Managers
Social and community service managers direct workers who provide public health services. These managers help community members select and implement programs that benefit local populations. They analyze each initiative's effectiveness and suggest improvements as needed.
Social and community service managers are in high demand due to an aging population that requires social services like adult homecare and the rise in substance abuse. Individuals dealing with addiction are increasingly sent to treatment programs, driving the need for program managers.
- Median Annual Salary: $74,000
- Projected Employment Growth (2021-2031): 12%
5. Health Promotion and Education Specialists and Community Health Workers
While health education specialists and community health workers serve similar roles, some of their responsibilities differ.
Health promotion and education specialists develop programs and intervention strategies to promote behaviors that encourage health and wellness in individuals and communities. They develop and evaluate programs, making changes when necessary. They may also train community health workers to implement initiatives.
Community health workers interact directly with healthcare providers and social service organizations to advocate for community residents. They provide information regarding available healthcare services, manage outreach programs, and discuss any relevant health concerns with colleagues and community members.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased interest in preventing behaviors and practices that negatively impact health. Developing programs and policies to assist people in living healthy lifestyles can help prevent diseases and reduce costs for treatment and procedures.
6. Public Health Nurse
Public health nurses educate communities on health-related issues, provide direct health services in community settings, and improve health and safety by increasing access to care. They monitor trends and risk factors to prioritize interventions that benefit the greatest number of people.
These nurses also design and implement disease prevention and clinical preventive initiatives, such as cancer and mental health screenings and immunization clinics. Government agencies recognize the benefits of preventive healthcare services, expanding the need for qualified public health nurses.
7. Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technicians
Occupational health and safety specialists inspect and evaluate workplaces to ensure that employers maintain safety standards and government regulations. They also train employers and workers to implement and uphold safe practices.
These specialists demonstrate how to properly use equipment, maintain safe workspaces, and avoid hazardous practices. They investigate accidents to determine the cause and prevention.
Employers and insurance companies hire occupational health and safety specialists in an effort to keep employees safe and avoid accidents that raise the cost of insurance and increase workers' compensation claims.
- Median Annual Salary: $78,740
- Projected Employment Growth (2021-2031): 5%
8. Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment. They explore the interplay between the environment and human health to prevent, control, or fix environmental issues.
These specialists collect and analyze data to inform government organizations, businesses, and the public of hazards that may cause or create health concerns.
An increased focus on the environment and population growth drives the demand for environmental scientists. Many local governments, businesses, and individuals wanting to minimize their carbon footprint hire environmental scientists to develop sustainable practices.
9. Health and Safety Engineer
Health and safety engineers develop processes and systems to safeguard people from illness and injury and prevent property damage. Using their knowledge of health and engineering, they evaluate new equipment, inspect work environments for hazards, and ensure that safety protocols are current.
They are also responsible for recommending additional safety measures, educating the workforce, and implementing new health and safety policies.
Health and safety engineers typically work in manufacturing, engineering, and construction, although some find roles in consulting firms or state and local governments. As technology continues to change the engineering field and more workplaces implement complex regulations, health and safety engineers can help reduce costs and protect employees' lives.
10. Emergency Management Director
Emergency management directors plan and execute responses to natural disasters and similar emergencies. They collaborate with public safety officials, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to minimize disaster-related damages.
They also organize emergency response training, review and modify emergency plans, coordinate the use of resources between communities and organizations, and prepare assessments after the crisis. During an emergency, they monitor and manage the situation from a command center.
The BLS projects the demand for emergency management directors to remain steady as emergencies like natural disasters cannot be avoided completely. However, state and local budgets often dictate the employment outlook. In areas that rely primarily on federal funding, it may be difficult to sustain a full-time emergency director.
Find Your Next Career in Public Health
Demand for public health professionals will remain high as communities continue to refine their public health planning. For these reasons, now may be one of the best times to pursue a career in public health.
Ready to get started? The healthcare industry needs professionals to help individuals and communities effectively monitor and respond to future threats.
Page last reviewed February 17, 2023
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